This engaging activity gives students an opportunity to generate and ask questions about a text by directing them towards a peer who is acting as a specific character. It encourages students to think deeply about the meaning of a text, to engage emotionally with material, and to identify with characters.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Determining Importance
  • Questioning

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Balancing Informative and Literary Texts
  • Building Knowledge in the Discipline
  • Staircase of Complexity
  • Text-Based Answers


Identify the character(s) that you would like students to role-play Consider giving students time to prepare for the role-play by studying one or more characters.

Activity Steps 
  1. Individually, in pairs, or in groups, students brainstorm questions they would like to ask a selection of characters from a text.

    You may want to model this activity for students by thinking aloud about something you are genuinely wondering about the text, and then generating a question you would like to ask a character in order to clarify your thoughts. Students’ questions should connect to the text and be supported by it. Consider asking students to provide rationale from the text on the importance of the questions they have chosen to ask. Consider sharing sentence stems that may help struggling students generate appropriate text-relevant questions.

  2. One student comes to the front of the class and takes the role of a particular character.

    If this is the first time doing this activity, you may want to role-play the first character yourself to help students understand what is expected. Students in the role of the character should be instructed to use their knowledge of the text to guide their responses. The character’s responses should be supported by text evidence and make logical sense based on what is in the text. You can allow students to use costumes, accents, and props to make the role-play portion more immersive.

  3. Students take turns asking the “character” questions. The role-playing student answers in character, using the first person.

    Discuss with students how it is OK for a character not to know something. Help them to figure out what it is likely a character really would know if the story were real. Encourage them to use logic and their imagination to answer questions that the text does not answer explicitly.

  4. Students discuss the interrogation in a group, responding to questions such as: · What answers surprised them and why? · What questions might they have answered differently if they were playing the character and why? · What big questions remain truly u

    As you guide this discussion, you can help students to consider why plot points in a book might be ambiguous. Also help them to identify logical inferences that they can make in response to their questions.

  5. Repeat with a new character and set of questions, if wanted.
  6. Students reflect on their learning process either in writing or discussion.

    Students should respond to questions such as: · How does role-playing affect your understanding of a text? · How does questioning a character affect your understanding of a text? · How might you use the strategy of questioning a character as you read individually? · How might this strategy be useful in other classes or for other tasks?

Adaptation for the Math Classroom 

In the math classroom, students can take on the role of a math concept (such as slope, or integers) or assume an important character from the history of mathematics and respond to questions within that role.

Downloadable Resources 
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